Berry, Harry Clarke, Gail D’Alton, Giles Daubeney, Maarten Hulzebosch, Frank
Pierce, Charles Smith, Jenny Spry, Dave Stickney, Sally Symonds, Glenn White
& Mike Carter (leader).
WEATHER: A ridge of
high pressure was centred over Bass Strait. Thin cloud provided 8/8 cover,
finally clearing at 15.00. Light was good, with excellent visibility. Cool. S
wind 5-10 knots inshore at first. Calm beyond the shelf and in p.m., (less than
SEA: 0.5 to 1 m
seas on a 2-4 m swell inshore at first, but a smooth sea on a long, low swell in
pelagic waters and throughout the p.m. So mostly a comfortable ride, but a
bit bumpy going out. No-one sick.
ACTIVITY: Sailed at
06.50. Headed out on a COG of 207º at 12.5 Kts. Inshore waters (first 20 km),
were almost devoid of birds but we did get excellent views of a Common Diving
Petrel and saw another just inside the shelf break. Off-shore waters were
much more productive, especially between the 55 & 90 fathom contours, with
fair numbers of feeding Short-tailed Shearwaters and Fairy Prions and 6
White-faced Storm-Petrels together. Gannets were passing eastwards and there was
a few albatrosses stooging around. We crossed the shelf-break at 09.45 having
paused occasionally. Pushing out into pelagic waters to 235 fathoms, there was
scarcely a bird to be seen until our berley slick, rich with shark liver,
attracted birds from beyond our visibility. These included the first of 2
White-chinned Petrels and the bird of the day, Victoria’s fourth-ever
Black-bellied Storm-Petrel. We had excellent views and were able to study
it at leisure for about 10 minutes feeding to within 30 m of the boat. This was
a white-bellied morph and being relevant to recent controversy on the ID of this
group and the suspected rediscovery of the New Zealand Storm-Petrel, deserves
more detailed discussion. If the photographs are any good, available in about a
week, this may have to be in another forum.
pelagic zone, we had made three berley stops within a 10 km circular area
centred on 38º50.0’S 141º50.3E.
We departed the deeper waters at 12.30, rather
earlier than usual, to allow time in the off-shore zone where we had encountered
prions on the way out. A wise decision. Travelling at 13.5 Kts, by 13.00 we were
at 38º44.5’S 141º47.3’E among dense flocks of Fairy Prions pattering over the
surface (depth 77 fathoms) when our skipper spotted some whales. We stayed with
these Sei Whales (ID confirmed by discussion with experts and in
particular, distinguished from Fin Whale by a paper in print by Simon Mustoe)
until 13.30. Since the species was not included in Peter Menkhorst’s Mammals
of Victoria published in 1995, I thought this must be the first state
record. Learned later that Peter Gill has had 10 sightings in recent years while
researching Blue Whales in the area! Also present were 2 Arctic
inshore, we cruised the western and northern shores of Lady Julia Percy Island
(LJPI) from 15.10 to 15.30. Docked at 16.35.
Australian Fur Seals: 1,000’s
at LJPI and perhaps 30 remote at sea, most in the offshore zone where feeding
seabird concentrated between the 55 & 90 fathom contours. Common Dolphins: pod of 10 beyond the shelf
break @ 11.45 @ 38º49’S 141º49’E. SEI WHALES: Between 13.00 & 13.30 we watched at
least 3 large animals (possibly accompanied by smaller young or another species
of cetacean seen briefly), feeding together, maintaining close contact @
38º44.5’S 141º47.3’E. Water depth was 77 fathoms. Dense flocks of Fairy Prions
were feeding by surface seizing in the same area. We approached to within say
200 m and followed them as they criss-crossed the area. Several photos were
obtained but it will be a week or so before these are available. They were still
present when we left.
species of seabird beyond the river mouth indicated limited diversity and only
two, Short-tailed Shearwater and Fairy Prion could be considered to be abundant.
Most species were relatively scarce. Highlights are in capitals. Unless noted
otherwise, those listed below were near or beyond the shelf break (i.e.
Penguin: 4 on
Diving-Petrel: 2. 1 inshore & 1 offshore in a.m.
Petrel: 30 (20). 10 nominate race, 20 gouldi.
PETREL: 2 (1), both photographed.
Fairy Prion: >
1,000 (200) offshore & 15 pelagic.
Shearwater: >3,000 offshore, 5 inshore & 10 pelagic.
Albatross: nom. race, 6 (2). 3 off, 3 inshore. All sub-ads. or
impavida, 10 (4). 5 adults, 5 sub-ads.
cauta: 70 (25). 15 offshore. 60 adults, 9 sub-adults, 1
Albatross: 8 (2). 5 offshore. No adults, 1 sub-adult, 1
Storm-Petrel: 11 (3). 3 offshore.
Storm-Petrel: 15 (6). 9 offshore.
Gannet: c.250. 3 inshore, c.250 offshore, none pelagic.
Cormorant: 5 on LJPI.
Kelp Gull: 2 adults
Silver Gull: 7 on
Crested Tern: 3
only, 2 offshore & 1 pelagic.
ARCTIC TERN: 2
singly, retaining much breeding plumage, offshore.